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covid Dunning–Kruger effect masks the federalist

The most ridiculously pretentious argument against wearing a mask comes courtesy of The Federalist

It’s safe to say that The Federalist — the inexplicably well-funded right-wing rag — isn’t happy about Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates. Their first post on the subject declared it a “fascist move”; a followup post groused that the Biden administration is “really just using lies and deception to force their agenda on the American public without regard for the law or Constitution.”

But as Federalist rants against COVID mitigation go, nothing quite lives up to Joy Pullmann’s nonsensical and pretentious contribution on masks earlier this week. (It somehow manages to be even more inane than her previous writings on COVID.)

Pullmann, the site’s executive editor, is upset because “mask mandates force me to communicate what I believe are very dangerous lies.”

What on earth is she talking about? Well, though she frankly admits that masks may “ultimately provide some small reduction in coronavirus spread,” she hates what she calls

the security theater, which assumes that drastic government micromanagement of our lives and indefinite curtailment of our liberties are not only ever acceptable but in fact the moral thing to do.

Of course, to anyone who’s brain hasn’t turned to mush reading The Federalist or watching Fox News,wearing masks is the moral thing to do. Most sensible Americans are already wearing them, at least indoors, and would be without the need for any mandates. Because masks save lives, and in my moral calculus, and that of most mask-wearers, saving lives is more important than the minor inconveniences of wearing a mask.

“Security Theater” is being forced to take off your shoes to go through airport security because once in the history of humanity some idiot terrorist brought a shoe bomb onto a plane. Wearing a mask actually lowers your risk of catching or spreading COVID.

Pullmann is well aware that masks save lives, acknowledging that she’s

willing to wear a mask in certain “high-risk situations like nursing homes or hospitals or the homes of cancer patients.

But apparently the lives of the rest of us don’t make quite as much of a difference to Pullmann, who blithely assumes that most “public settings … are low-risk environments and should be treated as such.”

Well, OK. Let’s talk about risk. Being outside, at least in uncrowded circumstances, is genuinely low risk, and mask mandates typically don’t require masks in these settings. Being inside a public building , especially one with poor ventilation, is a different kettle of COVID.

But to Pullmann, the masks’ functions — helping to protect both wearers and those who come in contact with them — matter less than the symbolism.

Far above and beyond any health considerations, masking is a symbol. It is a talisman, a ritual, a communication of premises that I utterly reject. Being forced to wear a mask to me is the equivalent of being forced to wear a T-shirt that supports legalized abortion, which I believe is mass murder.

No, it simply communicates that you think human lives are more important than making a political point of your own, even if the only point you’re really making is that you put your own convenience over the lives of others.

Wearing a mask communicates that I accept the premise that everyone should wear a mask, even if vaccinated, even if possessing natural antibodies, even if a child to whom the flu is more dangerous, even if an adult who believes living with risk is part of human life and that attempting to eliminate risk is more dangerous than accepting it. It communicates that the entire world should look like a hospital, a fearful and sad place where people are desperately sick, even if they don’t know it.

It really doesn’t “communicate” any of these things. Wearing a mask “communicates” that you are willing to inconvenience yourself mildly in order to save lives.

It communicates that I believe harassing the living hell out of Americans is a justified response to a disease with a 99.5 percent survival rate or better for those younger than 65.

I don’t know where Pullmann got that survival rate from; it appears nowhere in the more than year-old post she cites. As of right now, using current numbers from here, the survival rate for Americans with COVID is 98%, considerably lower than 99.5%.

677,,000 Americans have already died of COVID; the total worldwide is 4.6 million. In part because the vaccination rate is so low, deaths are skyrocketing around the world. By not wearing a mask (or, even more importantly, getting vaccinated) you are contributing to these deaths. One recent piece by the Associated Press suggests that there will be another 100,000 deaths in the US unless we “change our ways.” Mask and vaccine mandates could lower that number.

And Pullmann, by highlighting the fact that death rates are lower among people younger than 65, seems to be suggesting that the lives of those over 65 are worth less than those of younger people. It’s a form of eugenics-lite.

It communicates that it is reasonable to worship health as an idol, and to control citizens with fear. Well, I simply don’t believe any of that, and I’m not going to be forced to communicate that I do.

Ms. Pullmann, all you’re communicating here is that you’re a pretentious narcissist who doesn’t give a shit about the hundreds of thousands of people who have died (and who will die) in the US.

After a few more shots at what she calls the “post-totalitarian COVID regime,” Pullmann’s rant takes a bit of a curve to consider a famous essay by Vaclav Havel, someone who actually did know quite a bit about the dangers of totalitarianism.

She decides that what mask-haters have to allegedly suffer in contemporary America is more or less equivalent to citizens in communist dictatorship being forced to pretend to support the government.

Once against forgetting that masks are practical tools to prevent COVID, she again comes back to the supposed symbolism of wearing a mask.

The point is signaling compliance out of fear, not an honest discussion of the evidence, or persuasion, or any mechanism respecting the informed and open consent of the governed.

Or maybe the point is you don’t want to get your grandmother sick with something that could easily kill her.

What mask mandates achieve [is] a false signal that dissenters don’t exist, that everyone buys into the indefinite suspension of our rights “because COVID,” no matter how much it harms people, nor how weak its alleged rationales.

How does wearing a mask “harm” you? Yes, masks are a minor inconvenience. But the worst thing they’ve ever done to me is to fog up my glasses sometimes.

After positing herself as the moral equivalent of a celebrated dissenter against totalitarian communism, she goes on to suggest that wearing a mask is like being initiated into a gang.

It’s the same dynamic as gang initiations requiring initiates to commit crimes. Once people have compromised themselves, they are more likely to identify with their compromise, because it’s embarrassing to admit you were wrong.

I’m pretty sure the gang members would also beat the shit out of anyone who quit. But I’m guessing Pullmann hasn’t had a lot of hands-on experience with being in a gang.

She apparently feels quite proud of herself for not wearing a mask, even suggesting it has been some kind of “noble sacrifice” on her part.

Dissenters are living proof that everyone does not have to comply, that it is possible to live in the truth. This shames those who have chosen temporary comfort over noble sacrifice.

She comes back again to the Soviet Union, once again suggesting that mask mandates are as bad as any restrictions’ on free speech in communist countries.

Do we need an Afghanistan-level catastrophe for more Americans to realize their acceptance of lockdowns, which mask-wearing signals, is just as deadly? Statists are more than happy to oblige. But the longer we take to wake up, the worse the suffering must be.

Even setting aside that we’ve just had an “Afghanistan-level catastrophe,” one exactly the size of Afghanistan, her argument is completely backwards. The more people wear masks, the more people get vaccinated, the less suffering there will be. Pullmann is no heroic dissident like Vaclav Havel; she’s basically a Karen with a platform.

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personalpest
personalpest
6 days ago

Sorry for the cliche, but WTF did I just read.

So much fearmongering! Pullmann throws logic and coherence out the window; instead, she associates mask wearing with irrelevant hot-button issues that make her and her target audience anxious and angry (Abortion! Afghanistan! Gangs!). Her column is a ridiculous (if dangerous) piece of demagoguery straight from the right-wing id.

Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy

If I could somehow mute covid discourse without muting actual covid info, I’d be a happy Mish. These people are exhausting. And the constant undercurrent of eugenics is really hard not to take personally, lol. It also sucks that a lot of otherwise progressive types express similar views i.e. “covid won’t harm healthy people so why are we so worried about it.” Ugh.
The state I live in (in Aust) has had hard border closures for ages now and the covid whiners are literally drawing comparisons with North & South Korea (or cold war Germany). Tim Pool is convinced that Australia has become Nazi Germany because we’re … building quarantine facilities for folks returning from overseas.
Oh! and a final rant – I saw Zaid Jilani tweeting that he won’t wear a mask because he’s vaccinated (such fine minds, such logical thinking) and then casually mentioning that he does community work with kids…
Hngggghhh. hope everyone here is doing ok 🙂

Nequam
Nequam
6 days ago

Can’t we just brand them with the Mark of Nurgle? (And then see if Games Workshop sues them?)

jsrtheta
jsrtheta
6 days ago

Thanks for sharing this. I never go to The Federalist. And it’s important we recognize the kind of garbage, libertarian baby thinking that dominates the Right because it’s damned scary, even if unintentionally hilarious.

Dalillama
6 days ago

These chucklefucks only have one screed. This is almost exactly the same crap they pull out to oppose the Civil Rights act, and its tyrannical demands that business owners serve Black people.

Battering Lamb
Battering Lamb
6 days ago

Sure, the survival rate is about 98% in the US. But for every single person who does die, there are about 19-20 who have permanent damage to their lungs and even more with increased risk of complications for other illnesses.

But I guess those aren’t real risks or something to these dingdongs.

Alan Robertshaw
6 days ago

I must confess, when I read articles like this, and see people’s reactions I get a bit conflicted.

First I should make clear I do wear a mask, even though they’re no longer compulsory here, and I was double jabbed at the earliest opportunity. I think that’s the pro-social thing to do. However…

The UN and WHO have made it clear that the only way to prevent future pandemics is to change the way we eat.

https://www.unep.org/resources/report/preventing-future-zoonotic-disease-outbreaks-protecting-environment-animals-and?_ga=2.222649310.493033320.1631354516-1236584563.1631354516

And it seems the best way to mitigate against the effects of Covid is to avoid meat.

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/meat-free-diet-may-lower-severe-disease-risk-no-serious-problems-found-with-2021-06-09/

https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/4/1/257

So if people want to do everything they can to protect themselves and others against covid then they should go plant-based.

But of course for lots of people that’s a step too far. So even the loveliest and most compassionate of people still make a trade-off between public protection and personal preference.

Hence my conflicted feelings.

I don’t want to harangue anyone here for their choices. I know everyone is caring and considerate of others. It’s just everyone has a line they draw on what sacrifices they are willing to make to address the issue. So whilst I do despair a bit at attitudes like those addressed in the post; I don’t think I can judge them any more harshly than I judge my friends. That, to me, would be applying a double standard.

Last edited 6 days ago by Alan Robertshaw
Ohlmann
Ohlmann
6 days ago

> Once people have compromised themselves, they are more likely to identify with their compromise, because it’s embarrassing to admit you were wrong.

Okay, I am now fully, 100% sure that person is entirely aware she is in a scam, but don’t want to back out because it’s embarrassing to admit she is wrong.

Subtract Hominem
Subtract Hominem
6 days ago

Do we need an Afghanistan-level catastrophe for more Americans to realize their acceptance of lockdowns, which mask-wearing signals, is just as deadly?

I would have happily accepted more lockdowns if it had reduced Covid to a merely Afghanistan-level catastrophe. This recent study calculates the total number of direct war deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan over 19 years to be about 35% David’s posted number for Covid deaths in the USA in 19 months.

Malitia
Malitia
6 days ago

It communicates that it is reasonable to worship health as an idol, and to control citizens with fear.

We already do both of those things, even combined, with a good helping of the demonization of the sick/disabled/elderly/fat/etc.. That’s the whole business model of several billion dollar industries like the weight loss and the “healthy” living one.

The masks are common courtesy to our fellow humans (and ourselfs) in times of flu like diseases. And it isn’t even expensive enough to make anything bigger than a couple of Etsy shops profitable.

Last edited 6 days ago by Malitia
epitome of incomrepehensibility

the indefinite suspension of our rights

As if, before COVID, everyone was free to go anywhere they wanted without any restrictions! As if there were no rules (fair or unfair) about how people needed to dress to be let inside places! (I haven’t seen a sign nowadays saying “no shoes, no shirt, no service,” but that’s the sort of thing I mean.)

And this “symbolism” argument is silly. That’s like saying surgeons wearing gloves is symbolic.

…The only thing I don’t like? When public places (that are NOT medical settings) require the blue throwaway masks only. My university has this rule, and it bothers me because Concordia is usually ahead of the curve in environment/sustainability awareness, or at least it likes to say it is. They have recycling containers for the disposable masks, but recycling takes up energy and often the material that actually gets recycled is minimal…

Anyway, sorry for the rant. I suppose it’s an easy way of making sure people can easily see the masks by having them all look the same (again, practical rather than symbolic) and that the university has some control over the mask quality. But most of the reusable cloth masks* I’ve seen are better than the flimsy blue ones. I might write to the student union about this and see what their take is.

*For protection quality (afaik), the thick KN95 masks are the best, but that would be more waste and more expense

Beyond Ocean
Beyond Ocean
6 days ago

It’s probably not the best for my mental health, but I can’t help to wonder what the actual motivations of these people are.

Maybe there really is something to the “symbolism” argument. The enemy (non-right-wingers) really seem to be into these masks (/s), so wearing them is like flying the enemy flag in the perpetual culture war.

People are also using the same arguments for masks (basically, “think of other, vulnerable people, you fuckwit”) as are used for other “Marxist” ideas, like public healthcare. Obviously, no ground can be conceded in this war.

Plus, I’m picking up some weird “it’s God’s will who lives and who dies anyway, working to limit the pandemic is blasphemous” vibe. It’s not the first time, and not just from American fundamentalists.

@Alan Robertshaw

Right… because completely remodeling your everyday diet is as easy, affordable and accessible to people as wearing a cheap piece of cloth on your face sometimes.

I don’t want to harangue anyone here for their choices. I know everyone is caring and considerate of others.

Yet you end your informative post with “ain’t it logical y’all are as bad as the nazis?”

Alan Robertshaw
6 days ago

@ beyond ocean

remodeling your everyday diet is as easy, affordable and accessible

Oh yeah I agree there can be all sorts of impediments. Everything from food deserts to which industries get the subsidies. For some people it just isn’t practicable or possible. But for plenty of people it would be feasible. They just prefer not to. And to me that’s like masks or any other measure. Some people have genuine reasons they can’t wear a mask; some people just choose not to. And like I say that really conflicts me. I don’t think any less of my friends for that; and I certainly don’t think anyone here is a nazi. So it does give me a bit of cognitive dissonance to judge anyone else.

I can roll my eyes at the rhetoric of the original post of course.

Sheila Crosby
Sheila Crosby
5 days ago

@Alan A quick read suggests it’s still not clear whether the benefit comes from not eating meat, or from eating lots of vegetables. But as you say, there are many other reasons for not eating meat, or at least an awful lot less of it. I keep trying to cut the family’s meat consumption, but it’s slow going.

Did you see this? https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg25133470-900-real-milk-no-cows-needed-lab-made-dairy-products-are-now-a-reality/ Genetically engineered microorganisms that produce milk.

Alan Robertshaw
5 days ago

@ Sheila

It’s like the high testosterone thing. That seems less about eating plants raising levels, more dairy and meat lowering them. Ironically, in view of the soy boy thing, because of the hormone supplements used in animal-ag.

And yeah, saw that. I peripheraly follow all the developments in cultured meat and dairy. Obviously I’m all for anything that helps by providing an alternative. But personally I find it a bit yucky. Which arguably shows how good a facsimile it is.

R. Bridger
R. Bridger
5 days ago

@Alan Robertshaw I think it’s great to talk about the health benefits of eating more plant foods, but considering that neither of the sources you cite concludes that cutting meat out of your diet is effective in limiting the spread of covid, your comment just reads as an attempt to make non-vegans look bad by positioning them as equally complicit in covid’s proliferation as anti-maskers

Alan Robertshaw
5 days ago

@ R Bridger

Well I suppose there’s the argument that reducing the severity of the symptoms puts less strain on the health services so that’s to the public good in that it saves resources for more vulnerable people. But yeah, the main ‘proliferation’ point is the UN report on zoonotic diseases generally.

And I do get that this is a complex issue. I suppose the fundamental question is: are you morally obliged to do everyone within your power to mitigate against the spread and severity of covid?

And maybe there’s no definitive right answer to that. It might be reasonable for example to say that one person’s actions can only have such a negligible effect then it’s not justifiable to ask them to do it.

Ohlmann
Ohlmann
5 days ago

Eh, the idea of stopping zoonose by stopping eating meat is :

  • exagerated, because zoonose happen in plenty of non eating situation, so it would just reduce the odds by an unknown %. After all, we aren’t even quite sure that the meat industry is the source of the current pandemic.
  • problematic for cultural foods, because while plenty of recipe can be vegetarian, just as many depend of the specific of the meat used – given that changing beef by mutton or chicken can metamorphose the plate
  • possibly counter productive, because people don’t have an infinite amount of energy to change stuff, and changing to whole vegetarian cost a lot of energy, which possibly could be better spent trying to reform the governement or help apply norms. And on the same page, trying to say to people “do that thing that cost me nothing and cost you something” probably need to have some amount of messaging around that. I don’t ask religious people to not go to a religious celebration ever because while that measure cost me nothing (I don’t go there *anyway*) I understand it cost something to the people it actually impact.
  • probably not doable by a lot of people without a strong governement or corporate drive, because in the current situation eating vegetarian cost a ton more than regular diet. The reason for that cost are probably bad, but you can’t ask people to starve while the corporation stop charging too much for vegetarian stuff

There’s also the issue that it shift the blame away from the mess governements and corporations have done (by not implementing lockdown quickly enough or not giving enough resources to their employee to apply it or by trying to make people come back too soon), and shift it unto people. That’s probably unvoluntary, just it’s bad form when corporations are (successfully) doing the same to avoid blame for climate change.

And on top of that, you talk of “taking all possible measure against COVID”, but it’s unlikely you yourself take all measure against COVID. I don’t know you and don’t want to evaluate your way of life anyway, so there’s a small chance you actually do that, but absolute minimization of COVID spread is a LOT of work and require a lot of sacrifice. Nobody actually do that, and instead they try to do the most important stuff.

In short, that post look like a vegan trying clumsily to recruit more than an actual piece of information.

Moggie
Moggie
5 days ago

@Alan:

And I do get that this is a complex issue. I suppose the fundamental question is: are you morally obliged to do everyone within your power to mitigate against the spread and severity of covid?

Interesting question. Did you quit your existing job so that you could devote yourself full-time to COVID mitigation?

Alan Robertshaw
5 days ago

@ moggie

No; because I don’t think I could contribute anything by doing that. I did though avoid taking on a lot of in person work; even though legal services were exempt from lockdown; and that did hit my income somewhat.

But, I do try to do what I can; and some of that was difficult. Take the vaccines for example.

I have been outspokenly, and publicly, pro vaccine in vegan circles. I’m not bothered about the pushback; but that did come at some moral cost.

If vaccines only protected me then I wouldn’t take them. But I can’t let other people die for my beliefs. So it’s a utilitarian do least harm sort of thing.

That has been really hard for me though.

I’m someone who uses the term speciesism completely unironically. And to make matters even worse I’ve been involved in a case about some laboratory beagles. To me those dogs are people. I can’t help but see them as sentient beings as worthy of life as any of us. So I do feel a complete hypocrite having to look them in the eye now. Like it wasn’t really my decision to make. You condone the things you tolerate and all that.

I do intellectually understand it’s the right stance to take. I want everyone here, and in the world generally, to be as safe and well as possible.

But I’ve always believed you should treat people as ends not means. And now, notwithstanding the greater good justification, I still feel I’ve compromised a major core of my being.

Last edited 5 days ago by Alan Robertshaw
GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
5 days ago

The only thing that not wearing a mask communicates is “I am a selfish snowflake asshole who thinks they’re better than everyone else.”

Well, that and communicable diseases.

@Alan: Can you tell me a vegan diet that contributes enough protein without including ANY legumes, nuts, seeds, fungi, gluten-having cereals, or weird-ass fake foods while still being affordable (and not boring AF)? I’ve got a friend (and her doctors) who’d love to hear it.

(For that matter, ask your obligate carnivore train station mascot what he’d eat if everyone went vegan.)

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
5 days ago

@Alan Robertshaw:

I suppose the fundamental question is: are you morally obliged to do everyone within your power to mitigate against the spread and severity of covid?

That kind of thing quickly leads into Roko’s Basilisk territory. Are you morally obligated to devote 100% of your surpluses-to-subsistence-needs to saving the world in some way? Donating everything past a minimum amount of ramen noodles to the poor? Pouring every spare dollar into (pick one) climate mitigation, tree planting, AI research, SETI, cancer science, COVID relief, hurricane aid, wells for villages in Africa, etc. etc. etc.? While reducing your own life to that of an ascetic monk?

Of course, if everyone did the same, then what would it all be for? It all seems pointless unless someone is having fun. And grossly unfair, then, if the fun isn’t then distributed more or less evenly. So at the very least everyone has to take a day off here and there from saving the world. Plus you save the world less effectively if you end up suffering from burnout. So where does the line get drawn, then? How much time, money, and other resources are acceptable to keep for yourself vs. should go toward uplifting the worst-off or mitigating present or future disasters? And how much into long-shot, potentially-big-payoff things like SETI and AI and fusion or even decent-shot, decent-payoff things like next-generation solar or better computers or what-have-you?

One thing is for sure. One person deciding for everyone where that line should be drawn would be a recipe for disaster. Absolute power corrupts absolutely meets single point of failure whenever too much responsibility is heaped on a single person.

I have been outspokenly, and publicly, pro vaccine in vegan circles. I’m not bothered about the pushback; but that did come at some moral cost.

Eh? I’m aware that some killed-virus vaccines are cultured in chick embryos and things like that, and presumably are not vegan, but two of the COVID vaccines, the Moderna and Pfizer ones, are wholly synthetic I’m given to understand. I don’t see how there can be any controversy in vegan circles over getting the COVID jab given the widespread availability of the mRNA-based vaccines.

Last edited 5 days ago by Surplus to Requirements
.45
.45
5 days ago

I find this discussion a surprising turn of events on this blog. As a meat eater, I fully acknowledge that the main problem with going vegan for most people in countries like the US is chiefly “I will only do it if it tastes good enough to make up for the lack of meat I am accustomed to”.

I know vegans who eat a wide variety of foods, and they generally eat cheaper than most meat eaters. I mean, consider the price of a bag of beans in bulk vs ground beef. No contest, the beef loses. Better for the enviroment, better for the wallet. Going “But how many people can actually afford it” is basically a Strawman. Most can. (Cue the arguments that not everyone can afford to go to places that sell the appropriate foods in bulk, etc, etc. Most, not all, and that would change if the market changed.)

I’m not worried about Alan’s views on us all being culpable here. We are all culpable to varying degrees. Destruction is part of life. Entropy always wins. The main concern is over where the line should be drawn.

Oh, and I don’t recall what it was, and don’t feel like Googling, but there is basically only one vitamin that cannot be sourced from plants. Supposedly it may be linked to dementia or Alzheimers as I recall, but no serious studies have proven anything yet. Still doesn’t justify the massive amount of meat the average American consumes. You probably only need a small piece of chicken or something once a week to get it, not a burger and such every day. *Pending further investigation*

Battering Lamb
Battering Lamb
5 days ago

I eat vegetarian, primarily because I find it easier to just not eat meat that to do it in moderation (same goes for alcohol and soft drugs), I just really suck at moderation. I am not inherently opposed to eating meat in and of itself, but I do oppose the industry behind it. As such I find that research about the possible influence of diet on COVID interesting, so thanks for the links Alan.

As for other people’s diets, well, the phrase ‘there is no ethical consumption under capitalism’ comes to mind. The assembly of the computer on which I write this comment very likely involved a lot of exploitation of workers, and that probably also goes for most of the clothing I own. And it’s not that I don’t care, or that trying to put a stop to that isn’t something I would endorse, but aside from financial means, there is also the fact that our mental capacity to parse and process all that information is limited. And while vegan or vegetarian diet might be cheaper, there is also the mental cost of having to figure that shit out and altering your lifestyle appropriately, possible medical costs in the case of allergies and such.

I think the question whether we are obligated to do everything within our power to improve the world is an interesting one. Its examination shines a harsh light on strict absolutist moral statements, and should encourage further examination of what ‘within our power’ entails. If I can do something but that act will literally kill me, is it really ‘within my power’? If an essay in a language I understand on a subject I’m somewhat proficient in is on a table, my eyes are functional, the lighting is ideal as is my posture and seat, and the one thing in my way is exhaustion, depression or burnout, is reading it within my power?

Don’t have a clear answer there, though I’m leaning to ‘probably not’. Hope it is of some use or interest.

Alan Robertshaw
5 days ago

Thanks for all the responses to the issues raised. It’s interesting to hear people’s views.

I’ll try to briefly address some of the points mentioned.

@ gss ex noob

Ah, the protein question. Here’s a link to some sources.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-for-vegans-vegetarians#TOC_TITLE_HDR_19

As to your main point, the definition of vegan includes ‘as far as is practicable and possible’. So if for any reason a person can’t utilise any of the protein alternatives then they would have a justification for meat eating I guess. But I’m not sure the cat comparison works. Yes, they are obligate carnivores; but we’re not. I love animals, and I’m a big fan of Diogenes. But I’d have to accept that with regards to at least some things, animals might not be the best role models.

@ surplus

I don’t see how there can be any controversy in vegan circles over getting the COVID jab 

The vaccines were all subject to animal testing and vivisection.

The vaccine testing involved animal trials in ferrets and non-human primates at the Public Health England (PHE) laboratories. The team also  collaborated with researchers at the BBSRC funded Pirbright Institute to study the effect of this vaccine in pigs.

See here for details:

https://mrc.ukri.org/research/research-involving-animals/impact-of-animal-research-in-the-covid-19-response/

One person deciding for everyone where that line should be drawn would be a recipe for disaster.

Well, that’s my original point. In practice governments have decided where the line should be drawn; and enforced that with criminal penalties. But of course everyone has their own views on where that line should be drawn. So which views, and dissents, get respected?

For example, meat production plants were a major incubator for covid.

https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m2716

Trump though utilised the Defense Production Act to force them to stay open.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-wont-use-the-defense-production-act-for-medical-supplies-but-hell-use-it-for-meat/2020/04/29/2ed2b170-8a4d-11ea-8ac1-bfb250876b7a_story.html

He also gave them immunity from criminal and civil liability for breaches of health & safety, employment rights, and consumer protection laws.

Equally worrisome is the apparent aim of the administration to try to shield the companies from legal liability in cases of workplace exposure to the coronavirus. That fits with a larger effort by Republicans in Congress to broadly indemnify companies against lawsuits.

But if meat production had been subject to the same closures as some other industries, would you have found that acceptable; or would you have thought it worthy or protest? I’m genuinely curious there.

I do get what you say about balance between public protection and actually getting on and enjoying life. But that again is back to the original point. Many people made the argument that lockdowns were a step too far and the negative effects on mental health and just general well being outweighed the benefit of protecting people from covid. So is that something that should be left to the individual to decide; or should governments decide where the line is to be drawn? That did crop up over here with all the “Barnard Castle” fallout and the government’s rather conflicting message that people should “Just use common sense” as to when breaching lockdown was appropriate.

@ .45

 but there is basically only one vitamin that cannot be sourced from plants

B12. It doesn’t actually come from plants. It’s produced by bacteria in the soil. So grazing animals consume the soil, and people eating the animals get the B12 second hand as it were. In the olden days though, before thorough washing of vegetables, people got their B12 directly from eating plants and the bacteria still on there. I eat unwashed veg, and I test fine for B12.

@ battering lamb

‘there is no ethical consumption under capitalism’ 

Oh yeah, there are some major systemic issues at play here. I’ll just bring up one example of subsidies. Without subsidies, a Big Mac would cost $13. Although I do find it bemusing when people will campaign for BDS, insist you should never cross a picket line, or boycott anything by Rowling or Card, but if you point out the ethical implications of a burger they will fall back on the no ethical consumption point.

But that ties in to your main point. Yeah the issue of what actually counts as a ‘choice’ is a complex one; and crops up a lot when interpreting ‘practicable and possible’.

And I guess that’s back to the original point. Where do I draw the line at respecting, or at least tolerating, other people’s choices as to what level of inconvenience or adaptation is acceptable to them?

The cognitive dissonance kicks in for me when I start to decide such issues on whether I like the person making the decision and respect their choices but condemn the choices of people I don’t like purely because I don’t like them.

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
5 days ago

@Alan Robertshaw:

The vaccines were all subject to animal testing and vivisection.

Perhaps, but a particular individual dose of one of the mRNA vaccines did not involve marginal animal harm.

If, say, 10,000 years ago, someone fed an unfamiliar berry or mushroom to a pig to see if it got poisoned, and when it didn’t, began cultivating it as food, is it somehow not vegan to eat that plant or mushroom now?

How do you know if any of the foods you routinely consume were safety tested on some domesticated animal thousands of years ago?

Is a COVID vaccine dose any different just because the testing occurred more recently?

I do get what you say about balance between public protection and actually getting on and enjoying life. But that again is back to the original point. Many people made the argument that lockdowns were a step too far and the negative effects on mental health and just general well being outweighed the benefit of protecting people from covid. So is that something that should be left to the individual to decide; or should governments decide where the line is to be drawn?

One issue there is that there are network effects involved. A lockdown isn’t really effective unless it’s everybody, or almost everybody. Vaccination protects the individuals vaccinated, but if a high enough percentage get vaccinated it protects everyone else as well. Leaving these things up to individual discretion reduces their effectiveness, and basically to nil in the case of lockdowns.

So some things do, it seems, need government mandates, even while others should be left to individual conscience …

epitome of incomrepehensibility

@Alan – Sorry about having to make tough ethical choices at your job. I’ve had that too, on a smaller scale.

I guess my stance is that meat-eating isn’t inherently immoral because humans evolved to be at least partly omnivorous; we wouldn’t blame a wolf, say, for eating a rabbit. But you could also argue that humans with their capacity for language can make different choices, etc. I’m not saying that your viewpoint is wrong, just that mine is different.

What bothers me most is the overall lack of sustainability in factory farming. If I eat at a restaurant, I usually don’t know how the animals are harvested. When I eat venison and bear meat at my aunt’s place, I know my cousin & his girlfriend hunted them. (I was finally able to visit last week – first time since the pandemic!) Otherwise, I can run into worries that a) the animals were cruelly treated, like things and not living beings; b) the whole farming practice uses up too much energy.

Anyway, I can’t really do my current job/student thing while living in the country (besides, then I might have to drive a car and that has its own environmental footprint), but I will look out to eat less meat. I don’t usually buy it to cook, since it tends to be expensive here.

Does anybody have thoughts on why a university would require people to wear throwaway masks instead of reusable ones? Not to harp on this, but I’m curious if there’s any justifiable reason. The buses, stores, etc. here don’t specify what type of mask you have to wear.

Kevin
Kevin
5 days ago

Pullman comes across as a fool to me. I mask up outside my home because it’s a sensible precaution, not to signal compliance with the will of BoJo the Clown’s Circus of Corruption and Incompetence.

Lumipuna
Lumipuna
5 days ago

epitome of incomprehensibility wrote:

…The only thing I don’t like? When public places (that are NOT medical settings) require the blue throwaway masks only. My university has this rule, and it bothers me because Concordia is usually ahead of the curve in environment/sustainability awareness, or at least it likes to say it is. They have recycling containers for the disposable masks, but recycling takes up energy and often the material that actually gets recycled is minimal…

Anyway, sorry for the rant. I suppose it’s an easy way of making sure people can easily see the masks by having them all look the same (again, practical rather than symbolic) and that the university has some control over the mask quality. But most of the reusable cloth masks* I’ve seen are better than the flimsy blue ones. I might write to the student union about this and see what their take is.

Most places (or really any here in Finland) don’t have specifications for what kind of mask you should wear, as long as it covers your mouth and nose. Of course that alone doesn’t help much, so people are advised to actually use decent quality masks, and wear them somewhat airtightly, and practice good hand hygiene while touching/disposing the mask. However, these finer details cannot be enforced as standards, and just teaching them to the public as a recommended protocol/common sense matter proves challenging.

I think the issue is that cloth masks are hugely variable in structure and functional quality, and there’s no good formal way to specify a “good quality” cloth mask, much less visually distinguish one for enforcement purposes. General expert opinion seems to be that people default too easily into buying low-quality single-layer cloth masks because those are relatively cheap and come in a million fancy colors/prints. Besides, if you have anti-maskers in the population, they might start rules lawyering by wearing a mask made from mosquito net or something. There may also be concern that if you encourage people to use reusable masks, many will not bother to store them hygienically or wash them regularly.

Microfiber plastic masks (“hospital/surgical mask”, no respirator mold, may or may not fulfill some PPE quality standard) are regarded as better than low quality cloth masks. They are also incredibly cheap compared to cloth masks, which means they can be used as disposable, which makes their hygienic use easier and more appealing to the masses. A recent study in Finland showed they can also be cleaned by boiling (no machine wash) and reused around 10 times without damaging the structure too much, but I doubt many people bother to do this. My own experience is that cloth masks also don’t last very long in repeated machine wash; boiling them would be likely much better for the structure but less practical for the user.

Alan Robertshaw
5 days ago

@ epitome of incomprehensibilty

 I’ve had that too, on a smaller scale.

Ooh, if you’d be ok talking about it I’d be interested in hearing more. The ethical dilemma point is central to all this. So people’s experiences is useful info.

humans with their capacity for language can make different choices

Yeah, that’s the thing. We are now moral agents, and we do have the capacity for choice.

humans evolved to be at least partly omnivorous

This relates to a project I’m working on with someone. The basic premise is, how we raise kids and instruct them, basically instills them with values that are later hard to override.

So to pick up on your example, we teach that anatomical features dictate what behaviours are natural and unnatural. Or alternatively, that because we’ve always done something, means that we should keep on doing it.

There are of course lots of other examples. Which, if I get my arse in gear, there will eventually be a paper on.

But this is the thing, whilst I disagree with your stance, I do understand it. Heck, I used to share it. I know you’re a thoroughly decent person. So I certainly don’t think any less of you. I just see it as an issue I now have a different viewpoint on.

I obviously think our relationship with animals needs to be worked on. But it took me a while to realise my own contribution to exploiting them. So I see this as an extension of that “No-one arrives at progressive views fully formed” thing. It’s all a work in progress. And I extend that to everyone, not just people I like. Or, at least I try to.

ETA:

the whole farming practice uses up too much energy.

Indeed.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/07/20-meat-and-dairy-firms-emit-more-greenhouse-gas-than-germany-britain-or-france

Last edited 5 days ago by Alan Robertshaw
Lumipuna
Lumipuna
5 days ago

(continued on cloth vs. microfiber masks)

Back in 2020 I experimented with some cloth masks, in large part because microfiber masks were initially price-jacked and only available in awkward-looking “hospital style” colors. However, it turned out practically impossible to find a cloth mask that would be affordable AND properly fitted (for my face at least) AND have decent layered/filtering structure that also doesn’t obstruct breathing AND easy ear loop fastening. For some reason, microfiber masks are superior in these usability features, even without considering the hassle of storing and washing reusable masks.

By late 2020 microfiber masks also became cheaper, and available in somewhat more varied colors and styles (including some that look and feel more “cloth” than “plastic”). Black is very popular here in Finland, aside from the “classic” hospital colors. Some sturdier/more expensive models of the microfiber mask are even officially marketed as reusable/machine washable. OTOH lots of people still wear cloth masks, often flimsy looking things.

In autumn 2020 my university instituted a mask mandate and recommended that people use preferably cloth masks for “environmental reasons”. I think part of that logic was someone thinking that If I use a cloth mask the university only needs to issue me one mask and it’s enough for the rest of the semester/pandemic (as opposed to handing out a large number of disposable microfiber masks). The cloth mask I got from the university was functionally relatively well designed, and even looked stylish enough for campus appearances (black with small white university logo on the side), but it still doesn’t compare to microfiber masks in usability. It’s also not very durable in use, especially with machine washing.

Patti Scheibel
Patti Scheibel
5 days ago

.

Last edited 5 days ago by Patti Scheibel
Alan Robertshaw
4 days ago

@ patti

.

Fair point.

Reaktor
Reaktor
4 days ago

Don’t bother to argue or reason with an “evangelist” like Alan. Can’t you see? He practically derailed the whole comments section in order to preach walls of text! (Note: I only eat meat when invited to dine on it at someone else’s home. On my own, I’m vegetarian except for cheese).

So, masks: I wear one all the time. I washed my hands thoroughly even before the pandemic made it imperative. I use enough alcohol daily to make an elephant drunk. Yet, despite all that and more, I still caught the virus before the vaccination campaign could begin. It wasn’t your average flu in the slightest. I’m lucky I didn’t get many sequels. Needless to say, my contempt for people like Pullmann is beyond infinite.

GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
4 days ago

@Alan: Well, she CAN’T digest seitan, soy, lentils, beans, nuts, green veggies, many fruits, don’t know where she’d get teff, hemp seeds are pricey, peas, hates quinoa and spirulina. No car, lives on a high floor.

Being newly diagnosed as diabetic, she doesn’t want too much rice (though luckily she loves it) and is extremely meh on oats.

That leaves meat and dairy. The byproducts of which industry feed her kitty.

My all-vegan all the time friend gets her B-12 from bacterially-sourced pills, or nooch with that added. And even she thinks a lot of soy products taste like plastic.

Sustainable meat (free-range, hunted, etc.) would be better for everyone, but if we can’t even get MAGAts to get free shots and wear masks, they sure aren’t going to go for that.

The fake ground beef is a stupid use of soy, and it’s a Frankenstein monster of lab ingredients, plus the saturated fat is still high, and the sodium is ridiculous. I don’t care if it “bleeds” or not — I don’t know where they got the idea that that was the thing carnivores want so bad. Literally no meat-eater I’ve ever met cares if their raw ground beef oozes red juice. I would like to see more done with pea protein; I know it’s a little dry but it’s neutral-tasting.

@Lumipuna: I recommend mask adjustment straps. They hook into the ear loops and then you can adjust the fit to match your own head, using or avoiding your ears as you like. Currently I’m wearing one with Batman’s symbol, because if you can be Batman, be Batman, right? Next I will move on to Spider-man. I wipe them down with rubbing alcohol, and when they delaminate, it’s on to the next. My cloth mask collection has held up fine with machine wash. Wearing disposable ones underneath cloth ones also works really well, and provides extra protection. Nose wires are the big must for me so my glasses don’t fog up.

Beyond Ocean
Beyond Ocean
4 days ago

I can only speak for myself, but this B12 supplementation thing creates a major hurdle to adopt a plant-based diet. The perception is that you’ll be mostly fine if you eat traditional diet, but if you don’t balance and supplement a plant-only diet properly, you’ll destroy your health.

I’m not sure how true this is, but that’s the message I always get.

Eating unwashed vegetables is, admittedly, a pretty genius lifehack, but it requires access to plants you can be sure how they were grown.

And anyway, I believe that meat industry, among others, needs to be cracked down with regulations, not personal choices. You can expend all your energy to reduce harm by 0.000001% while corporations laugh in our face. I don’t believe it does much good for anything beside self-image.

There’s a right-wing meme making rounds that boils down to “you hypocrites keep whining about no ethical consumption under capitalism when you could be living like the Amish right now if you wanted.”

And it’s not completely wrong. But is religious purity the goal we should be striving for, instead of trying to effect the world?

Last edited 4 days ago by Beyond Ocean
Alan Robertshaw
4 days ago

@ reaktor

Yes, I can get a bit carried away on this topic; I apologise. I guess we all have our favourite causes; and it can be hard to dial back on those at times.

@ gss ex noob

The topic of plant based copies of traditional ‘meat’ products; like burgers etc does crop up a fair bit. The usual explanation is that it helps people transition to plant based diets by effectively replicating what they’re used to. So it’s less of a shock. Now you can pretty much buy a vegan copy of any food you can imagine. That’s good for choice; but it’s just companies seeing where the profits may lie (The current plant based protein market is $4billion pa but expected to be $80billion pa by 2030).

As for pea protein, do you have Bird’s Eye products where you are? They do some fairly decent stuff. I guess that’s because they have a surfeit of peas.

@ beyond ocean

B12 tablets are pretty cheap here. £3 for 6 months supply in Sainsbury’s. Although some people get better results with the mouthspray. Vitamin deficiency is obviously an issue in veganism. Although they tend not to be any more deficient than meat eaters. That’s a comment on the food industry as a whole I suppose.

And I get your point about the Amish. There are a few back to the land types in veganism of course. Spirit of the Levellers and all that. I don’t think it has to be quite that extreme though. As mentioned, you could switch to a plant based lifestyle with no material changes to your existing lifestyle. Food prices are a genuine issue though. Although vegans tend to have lower food bills than meat eaters; a lot of the processed products are expensive compared to the meat alternatives. That’s all down to lobbying and subsidies of course. Over here though the Co-Op have now pledged that they’ll never charge more for a plant based product than the meat alternative. So that’s a start; assuming it’s economically feasible.

Gaebolga
Gaebolga
4 days ago

Pullmann wrote:

Wearing a mask communicates that I accept the premise that everyone should wear a mask, even if vaccinated, even if possessing natural antibodies, even if a child to whom the flu is more dangerous [1], even if an adult who believes living with risk is part of human life and that attempting to eliminate risk is more dangerous than accepting it [2].

[1] Masks also help prevent the spread of the flu.

Why does she hate children?

[2] I look forward to her walking on railroad tracks, because accepting the risk of getting hit by a train is obviously more dangerous than attempting to eliminate the risk by not walking on railroad tracks.

How does anyone take any of this seriously? This shit is so stupid that stupid people think it’s stupid.

Last edited 4 days ago by Gaebolga
Alan Robertshaw
4 days ago

Sort of related. Apparently only 1.2% of covid deaths are now occurring in fully vaccinated people. I don’t understand statistics so I’m not sure whether that means being vaccinated means the probability of dying if you catch it are 99:1 against.

Whatever the size of the respective vaxxed/unvaxxed groups though; that still seems pretty good odds.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/13/fully-vaccinated-people-account-for-12-of-englands-covid-19-deaths

Lumipuna
Lumipuna
4 days ago

 GSS ex-noob:

I recommend mask adjustment straps. They hook into the ear loops and then you can adjust the fit to match your own head, using or avoiding your ears as you like.

Personally, I very much want to rely on ear loops. I’ve experimented with round-the-head straps (either built in or separate extension), but it’s impractical, especially in cold weather when I need also other headgear.

Luckily, most masks do have those handy elastic ear loops, and also they seem to fit my large head without pulling the ears too much. However, thin microfiber masks are the best in terms of forming a snug fit without needing much pull. If I needed more pull, I’d have to use a more complicated strap system to avoid straining my ears.

Wearing disposable ones underneath cloth ones also works really well, and provides extra protection.

I’ve tried that sometimes, but it’s a real hassle to handle two carefully fitted-together masks. I’d rather advise people to use a single mask that has layers and generally good functional structure. Most people seem just barely capable of using a simple disposable mask correctly, while also minding their own everyday business.

Nose wires are the big must for me so my glasses don’t fog up.

I generally need both the nose wire and my glasses just to form a good seal around my nose. My glasses still fog up in cold weather, but luckily I don’t usually need a mask while walking outdoors.

Jon
Jon
3 days ago

Joy is accurate. More accurate than David Futrelle. Pointing out the fact that people under 65 years have a remarkable chance at life.

Joe
Joe
2 days ago

The grimly hilarious thing is that a death rate of 99.5% in those younger than 65, even were that the correct number, would be absurdly high for a virus. It’s true that HIV, Ebola, and smallpox have or had much higher death rates, but there is now treatment for HIV and ebola, a vaccine for smallpox and ebola, and all three spread far less easily than Covid. A virus that kills 1/200 young people and more elderly with state of the art treatment, and which spreads faster than almost any other is an absolute disaster. We would be facing doom without masks and vaccines. Again, that is with her underestimation of the danger. The situation is actually worse.

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
1 day ago

@Beyond Ocean:

Eating unwashed vegetables is

ew.

@Jon:

Joy is accurate. More accurate than David Futrelle. Pointing out the fact that people under 65 years have a remarkable chance at life.

Ew-genicist. GTFO. And get the fuck vaccinated before you get somebody (quite possibly yourself) killed.

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
1 day ago

Eh? I’ve been put on moderation? Why the hell? I haven’t done anything wrong! Please explain this.